Ben Dunno, Warri
Immediate past Technical Director of the Athletics Federation of Nigeria (AFN) and Head of the Security Sub-committee in the recently concluded African Senior Athletics Championship, CAA, Asaba 2018, Navy Commodore Omatseye Nesiama (rtd) has attributed the success recorded to high level patriotism exhibited by the planning committee.
Nesiama said the tournament, which held at the Stephen Keshi stadium, Asaba, was hitch-free because of the synergy that existed between his committee and all security, paramilitary and safety agencies in Delta state.
Speaking while appraising the competition in a statement made available to newsmen, in Warri, on Monday, the IAAF-licensed athletes representative noted that the successful security measures at the Steven Keshi Stadium, venue of the event, was not devoid of certain challenges which were effectively tackled before, during and after the championship.
He noted that the synergy among all the stakeholders, especially the various subcommittees had helped in tightening all loose ends from the time of arrival of athletes to their time of departure from Asaba.
According to Nesiama, “I thank God that from beginning to the end, we didn’t get any record of security related issues. We prepared very hard for it and I’m very happy that the security strategy worked”.
“I engaged all the security agencies, both the military and paramilitary despite the fact that a sub-committee was set up, I expanded the subcommittee to include every security and paramilitary agencies as well as the fire service, red cross and some other safety agencies and it became an all encompassing body.”
While faulting critics who described the championship as a failure, Nesiama pointed out that the feat recorded by his committee has proved both local and international skeptics wrong about security concerns throughout the Championship and especially those who claim that the Niger-Delta region is unsafe.
He continued, “I have traveled round competitions based on my position as Technical Director, so I know how these things are done.
“I know the expectations and particularly because of our own clime and terrain, there was every need for us to prove the skeptics wrong that Niger-Delta isn’t safe, a place where they get kidnapped and so on and so forth.”
Nesiama, who is a member of CAA International Technical Officials Panel and CAA Technical and Competitions Commission, however said, “the water tank incident which occurred towards the end of the event was not a security incidence, hence the main goal of the security sub-committee was the planning strategy that ensured no life was lost and we achieved it.”
On the effective management of the crowd within and outside the Stephen Keshi Stadium, venue of the athletics tourney, Navy Commodore Nesiama (rtrd) noted that tact and security intelligence were deployed to curtail the surge and with the help of trained private security personnel, the crowd was carefully managed according to acceptable specification.
“I used the CCTV cameras to access both inside and outside the stadium and when we saw the surge we decided to allow people in from the entrance point to decongest the main gate.
“And when I now realized that the stadium was full to capacity, the only option was to now work on the safety aspect of our job which was to inform those outside that the stadium is filled up to capacity.
“We advised those that were outside to return home or nearby viewing centers to watch the event which has be granted rights to be broadcast live. So they can be part of it without necessarily being inside the stadium”.
“We also announced that at the end of the event every one inside the stadium should remain seated while the security personnel, especially the private security agencies/personnel would manage the crowd to leave in an orderly manner and every one will be evacuated in a short time and all these were part of our plan and thank God everything went well.”
Speaking on some of the challenges he faced with the athletes, he said the security sub-committee having planned for unforeseen circumstances, they were ready to tackle such situations.
“When you plan and everything works perfectly well, there’s something wrong and when you plan, you should be ready to hear some little errors.
So, based on that we experienced one or two challenges. When such situations come, we consider it not out of our power and try to tackle it as much as we can.
“For example events like this requires fewer hotels than what we actually got, which provided extra challenge. If we had hotels that could accommodate between 500 and 1000 guests, we would have proudly located everybody in one or two, especially the International or foreign guests”.
“It would have given us more consideration of security, less number of personnel and reduced the cost of transporting or escorting them to and fro in their areas of activity.”
When asked to comment on the recently reported alleged vandalism of facilities at the Stephen Keshi stadium, Nesiama said, “My committee’s work ended with the last delegates leaving the country”.
“While the championship lasted, our security was all over the place and after the championship, we knew that the collapsed fence will provide an entry into the stadium, if not protected”.
“We made a recommendation that there will be need to quickly secure the stadium in our reports but we dont know if that report has gotten out or not.”
The private security consultant therefore appealed to the state government to ensure that the stadium and its facilities are maintained to sustain the good works of the Governor Ifeanyi Okowa.
“The stadium and its facilities have to be maintained. We need to enhance the security of the stadium and we need to restrict access to certain sensitive areas to ensure that the facilities that people saw during the championship are still there to make the place beautiful.”